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Play it again, Horn

Play it again, Horn

Marita Chisholm


"Colonel, how much farther?" BA asked, from his rear position, mopping the sweat from his forehead. Hannibal dropped back slightly to speak with his sergeant.

"I'd say just over a click BA. Warm enough for ya?" Hannibal smiled, seeing BA perspiring in the heat of the jungle. He also noticed that the bandaged that he'd placed on BA's head was starting to show blood again.

Hannibal's team had completed another successful mission within the enemy territory and had destroyed another vital ammunition dump that the Northern Vietnamese Army had relied on. The assault had not gone without casualties and those that had been fortunate to survive the ordeal were now suffering in some way. Either by losing a friend that they had worked with so closely in the Vietnamese jungles or were carrying home souvenirs from the rebellious attack from the enemy.

BA was no exception, he had lost a good friend that he had known since growing up as a child in Chicago. Coupled with the headache that was holding its own assault on him, he trudged on trying to concentrate on what lay ahead of them and doing huis duty as rear guard.

Hannibal too had seen many young men give their lives a few hours before and fumbled their dog tags that he was holding. He put them back into his pocket an offered a silent prayer for those who had paid the dearest price in war - their lives. He had seen many tragedies in this war and wished it was over, at the same time he was thankful that Murdock had been no where near the battle zone, he was still dealing with losing one of his long time friends, Lance Kull who had flown into a hot zone and had been shot down. Now Hannibal had the ominous job of telling him that Lance's brother had also died serving his country.

On point lieutenant Peck, who had come through the last encounter pretty much unscathed, raised his hand, cautioning everyone to stop and remain quiet. Hannibal made his way up to his first officer and asked what the problem was. "Over there ..... do you hear it?" Face asked as he gestured to his right.

Hannibal listened and nodded. "You take right, I'll go left." Hannibal ordered. He then turned and looked at the rest of the group who were all in close proximity. "Sergeant you're in charge." Hannibal instructed BA and then left with Face to scout the area in front of them.

Hannibal had managed to get as close as he dared, while Face did the same on the opposite side. Neither could believe their eyes and made their way back to their starting point. "See what I see colonel?" Face asked in amazement.

"Only if you saw friendlies, then I saw what you saw." Hannibal smiled. "Ah colonel, think we should give them a little wake up call?" Face smiled and raised an eyebrow.

Hannibal could not help but smile when he saw his lieutenant give him that winning grin. "Sure why not? After all they could be lost and looking for us." Hannibal chuckled quietly.

Together they approached the team coming from the opposite direction. Stealthily they crept up on the team they had seen, and did not speak until almost on top of them. "Think I had better announce we're here, so they don't go shooting at us." Hannibal smiled. Face nodded in agreement and followed his colonel.

"You boys lost or just out here sight seeing?" Hannibal asked causing the member of the team going towards the rest of his squad's present location to stop and turn. Behind them they saw two soldiers smiling like Cheshire cats. The sergeant leading the team spoke first. "No colonel, sir." Then looking more closely at Hannibal he asked, "Colonel Smith? We were sent out to find you and your men".

Hannibal nodded and began to introduce his first officer. "At your service sergeant and this is lieutenant Peck." The sergeant looked hard at Face and then recollection sinking in he said, "Templeton Peck?" Hannibal smiled and turned to Face. "Seems your reputation precedes you Face." He said, his eyebrows raised questioningly.

Face recognized the sergeant in front of him and offered and explanation to Hannibal. "A while ago, before I had the pleasure of your company, Zeke was working with the MP's and well let's say it was one of those little misunderstandings." Face said, not wishing to elaborate further.

"Well sergeant you said that you've been sent to find us, come this way and you'll find the rest of them." Hannibal said and started to lead the way back. "Well Face, I'll have to ask Zeke about that incident sometime." Hannibal chuckled, seeing his lieutenant cringe at the suggestion.

To change the subject that was beginning to focus on him, Face suggested that he go and see if the rest of their squad were paying attention. Hannibal nodded and Face set off, circling behind the squad's present location. Hannibal strained to hear any sound from Face, knowing that his lieutenant would probably be expecting him to listen. "He's good, real good." Hannibal uttered. "What did you say colonel?" Zeke asked, coming up beside him.

Seeing Zeke there he shook his head and explained that he had been merely talking to himself about Face's prowess of moving quietly through the jungle. Zeke smiled and recalled a time when Face had not been so good at being quiet. His thoughts about that time were brought to an abrupt halt when Hannibal signaled Zeke and his men to be quiet.

They approached the remaining men in Hannibal's team, signaling them to be ready to move. Hannibal walked over to BA and checked on his wound. "How's the head BA?" Hannibal asked as he reapplied a clean dressing. "Fine I guess. Hey man, where's Face?" BA asked, scanning the area for him. "All clear up here, colonel." Face said, peeking out through the branches in the tree above BA.

"Good to hear Face, come down anytime you want." Hannibal laughed. BA looked up at Face and growled. "Aw man, you're gettin worse than that fool Murdock."

When he reached the jungle floor again Face patted BA on the shoulder. "Now BA you know you don't really mean that. You're just a little upset that you didn't hear me climbing the tree beside you."

BA shrugged and smiled at Face, finding it hard to stay angry at him when he smiled like that. "Yeah man, then again I was listening out the VC not you. I've gotta find a way of catching you out at that." BA said, his eyes twinkling at the prospect.

"If you two ladies are finished with your afternoon social gathering, may I suggest that we move away from here before you become guests of the VC". Hannibal playfully scolded.

Face rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders at BA, "You know I was so much looking forward to taking in the scenery, but you heard the colonel, better get moving."

As Face moved up past Hannibal, he heard him say to BA that the sergeant from the welcoming committee knew Face. Knowing where the conversation was heading, Face moved out of sight from Hannibal.

Back at the base camp, Hannibal first saw to his wounded men and the set off to locate Murdock. "Hi colonel." Murdock said ecstatically when he saw Hannibal enter the mess tent.

"Uh .... Murdock can I have a word?" Hannibal asked. When Murdock saw the somber look on Hannibal's face, he knew instinctively it was bad news. "Murdock, I'm really sorry to have to tell you this, but ...... Alex Kull was killed at the assault on the VC ammunition dump. I'm really sorry Murdock, I know you and he were close."

Hannibal waited while Murdock collected his thoughts and then nodded to confirm Murdock's unspoken question. Murdock bit into his bottom lip and sniffed back a cry that was trying to make itself felt. "Thanks colonel ...first Lance, now Alex." He looked up and stifled another sob that was trying to escape his lips.

Seeing that Murdock would be able to deal with the news he excused himself and said that he had to go and check on BA. "What's wrong with BA, colonel?" Murdock asked, following Hannibal from the mess tent.

On the way over to the infirmary Hannibal told Murdock how BA had been hit in the head with some flying debris from the ammunitions dump that they took out. "If it hit his head colonel, he should be all right. That mud sucker has a tough nut." Murdock said, trying to lighten his own mood a little.

Before they reached the infirmary they could hear BA bellowing at the doctor on duty. "Sounds like BA is much better already." Hannibal laughed, discarding his cigar before entering the examination room.

Face was standing at the end of the examination table, trying to keep the peace between doctor and patient. "BA, would you just drink your milk that I got for you, it will make you feel much better ..... I promise." Face urged as he handed the glass to BA.

"Thanks Face, I didn't mean to ... you know.." BA started to say before Face cut in. "I know what you mean big guy, but just drink your milk, I'm sure you'll feel like a whole new person." Face replied, giving him a dazzling smile. BA took the glass from Face and drank its entire contents. Face took the glass from BA and started counting, before he got to three BA was fast asleep in Noddy land.

"Thanks for your help lieutenant." Doctor Francis Hockinberry smiled. Face nodded and turned to leave, bumping into Hannibal as he did so.

"Sorry Hannibal, didn't see you there." Face apologized. Moving past Hannibal, Murdock stood at the head of BA's bed and looked down on him, watching him sleep peacefully.

"Hey Face, what made you think of giving BA his tablet in his milk?" Murdock asked.

Face smiled and explained it to Murdock and Hannibal who were both intrigued. "BA had been saying that when they got back to base he was going to have a glass of milk and since he wouldn't take the tablet that the doc was trying to give him, it kind of fell into his glass of milk."

"It 'kind of fell' Face?" Hannibal sniggered. Knowing that he was caught Face confessed that he slipped it into his drink. "We'll have to remember that trick, incase the need should arise again one day." Replied Hannibal.

"Coming Murdock?" Hannibal called out to the captain as he began making his way out the examination room with Face. "Sure Hannibal, just a minute." Murdock replied and quickly asked the doctor when BA would be asleep for. When he was told that BA would be awake in another four to five hours, Murdock thanked the doctor and caught up with Hannibal and Face.

Hannibal had suggested that they go to the 'Officers Club' for a drink and to relax after their latest mission. Murdock and Face both agreed it was a good idea, until Face saw Zeke and his troop heading in the same direction.

"Uh colonel I might give it a miss." Face said sheepishly, stopping in his tracks. "Why kid? Not feeling up to it?" Hannibal asked, concerned at Face's change of heart. Then when he saw where Face was looking, recollection dawned on him and he laughed. Face had already turned and started to slink away when Hannibal grabbed him round the arm and pulled him back the other way. "Come on kid, it'll be fun." Leered Hannibal.

Face resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to be able to get out of this one and meekly let Hannibal lead him towards the building that served as a bar for the base. "Yeah come on Face it will be fun." Murdock chorused as they continued to the bar. "Fun for who" mumbled Face, still not happy about the formidable outcome that he was certain the evening would bring.

"Colonel?" Murdock asked, concerned about Face's behaviour. "Yes." Replied Hannibal while he rummaged through his pocket for a cigar. "Why isn't Faceman too happy?" Murdock asked without bothering to ask Face himself, knowing full well that he'd avoid answering his friend.

Before entering the bar, Hannibal explained to Murdock that sergeant Zeke Anderson had known Face before now. He also assured Face that he would not pursue the matter that concerned him having met Zeke under less than pleasant circumstances previously. Face seemed amicable at that and nodded in agreement.

Hannibal knew that there had to be a reason as to why Face had declined to talk about it, and was determined to find out what that reason was, but not now, he had given Face his word on it. He knew his lieutenant well enough to let sleeping dogs lie. But deep down he also knew it would have to have been more than a bar room brawl or an encounter with a woman that was seeing another man, for his lieutenant not to be willing to talk about it.

Murdock and Face found an unoccupied table and waited for Hannibal to return from the bar. Murdock was anxious about Face's unease and tried to strike up a conversation with him. The conversation had been rather one side and Murdock was thankful when Hannibal returned with three beers.

"Here's to BA and milk." Hannibal smiled as he raised his glass in a toast. "Wonder how BA is." Murdock said as he too raised his glass to meet Hannibal's. When Face didn't raise his glass, Hannibal stared at him wondering what was going through his mind. "Hey kid, you not joining us in our toast to BA and milk?" Hannibal asked.

"Sorry Hannibal," Face said raising his glass, "just thinking about things." Hannibal nodded and then took a mouthful of his beer. "Want to talk about it?" Offered Hannibal trying to break Face's somber mood. Face took a long drink from his glass and shook his head. "Not right now ....maybe later." He said.

'Well it wasn't a firm 'no' ... more of a topic for later discussion'. Hannibal thought to himself and was pleased that Face had not shut him completely out. It had taken a long time for Hannibal to break through the wall that Face had built around himself, he knew not to push it and would wait patiently like he had done so many times before.

While enjoying their beers in silence, they were approached by Zeke Anderson and his men. "Good evening colonel, captain, lieutenant." Zeke said. Murdock put his glass down and smiled at the sergeant and then noticed that Face continued to stare at his glass.

"Good evening sergeant" Hannibal replied. "Lieutenant?" Hannibal voiced, looking at Face who continued to be entranced by the glass in his hand. "Yes?" Face answered, unsure whether Hannibal had asked him anything. "The sergeant said hello. Normally one responds in kind." Hannibal chagrined Face in a friendly tone.

"Sorry ...... Hi Zeke. You want to pull up a chair?" Face asked apprehensively. Hannibal stood and collected the glasses and beckoned Murdock to come to the bar with him, leaving Face and Zeke alone for a few minutes.

"They don't know what happened when we met, and right now I would prefer if you kept it between us." Face said. Understanding what Face meant, Zeke nodded, "Consider it done, and like I said at the time if I had been in your place, I would have done the same thing."

"Yeah I know." Face replied in a solemn tone. Breaking the lieutenant's somber mood, Zeke asked for Face to give him a hand in moving some tables closer together so that the rest of his platoon could sit with them. "So how many do you have in your platoon?" Face asked as they pulled the third table in to join with the others.

Zeke looked up and saw his platoon heading back, "Well if you're going to stick around, I'll introduce them to you." Zeke smiled, accepting a beer from Ruiz.

Sitting with his back to the wall, Face flashed Zeke a broad smile, "You'd better hold off the introductions until Hannibal and Murdock come over, or you'll be having to do this twice.".

When Hannibal and Murdock were seated at the table, Zeke began the introductions. "Well before we get carried away drinking, and before we all forget everyone's names I feel that as platoon leader..." Zeke started to say before Ruiz cut in, "C'mon searge, we ain't got all night and the beer's starting to warm up."

"On instruction from private Ruiz here to hurry up here's the shortened version of introductions. Starting with the furthest from my right is, Private Alberto Ruiz, next to him are Corporals Daniel Purcell and Marvin Johnson, then Captain Rusty Wallace, then we have Private Scott Baker, Lieutenant Horn, resident harmonica player and last but not least is Captain Randy 'Doc' Lee, who does the medical work in the field when Hockinberry isn't around." Finishing with the formal introductions he retook his seat and quietly sipped at his beer.

Hannibal stood and took his turn at the introductions, "Gentlemen it is nice to meet you all and as leader of this little team I would like to introduce you to Captain H M Murdock on my right and Lieutenant Templeton Peck, and I am Colonel John Smith."

"Very well done colonel, such flair, such style, such..." Murdock started to say then saw everyone looking at him. He didn't bother to finish the rest of his adulation towards his colonel and opted instead to drink his beer.

"Now I know where I've heard your names from before," Wallace began, "you guys are Special Forces, Colonel Morison's clean up squad." Hannibal smiled and acknowledged the comment.

"Seems that our reputation precedes us Face, that's really wonderful work you've done with the P R." Hannibal laughed. Handing Hannibal a cigar, Face replied, "Well I do my best."

The members of the platoon that hadn't heard of the many feats that Hannibal and his team had achieved, listened to the stories in full detail. Murdock relayed one about Face being assigned to furnish transport and instead of getting a jeep like they thought he'd get, he managed to get a Cadillac in the middle of the jungle. While the story was being told by a very expressive Murdock, Hannibal saw Face start to show signs of relaxing.

As the night wore on, stories between the two groups were exchanged, it continued on until Hannibal suggested that they pack things up and hit the hay. Zeke was impressed that without question or argument to extend the banter and drinks a little longer, Hannibal's men returned the bottles to the counter top and followed Hannibal from the bar.

"Good night gentlemen." Hannibal said and then told Zeke that he'd see him in the morning. "Goodnight to you to sir." Zeke replied and then turned to the others around him and suggested that they too go and get some sleep.

The next morning Hannibal sought out BA's doctor and asked him of BA's condition, while Face and Murdock visited with BA. "I'd like him to stay here for at least another day or so, it was a serious knock he took to the head, but I am sure that he'll be back to his old self in on time, once he get over his bad mood." Hockinberry grinned.

"That is his old self," Hannibal chuckled, "but I am sure that a couple more days in bed won't kill him." After thanking the doctor for his care of BA, Hannibal too went and visited with BA. The visit was short lived, interrupted by a messenger from the base headquarters. "Tell the general I'll be right there." Hannibal responded to the messenger and then made his apologies to BA that he could not stay and talk. "Enjoy the bed rest BA." Hannibal called as he left the infirmary.

"What's Hannibal talkin' about, saying enjoy the bed rest." BA growled, causing both Murdock and Face to step back away from the bed. Murdock shrugged his shoulders while Face offered to go and find out what was going on. Duly he returned with the doctor who explained that as a precaution he'd like BA to remain in his care for another 48 hours.

"We'll stop by again and visit later, and bring some crayons and a colouring in book for you." Murdock said, tugging at Face's shirt sleeve. "Uh yeah BA we'll come back later, duty calls." Face agreed and with Murdock left to find Hannibal.

"Murdock, Face! Over here." Hannibal called when he saw them heading off towards the base headquarters. "Our orders have come through kid," Hannibal said to Face, "so how do you feel about another trip into the hot zone?"

Face looked at Hannibal and mumbled. "What ever I did in my previous life, I am truly sorry for." Not sure whether Face was talking to him or not Hannibal asked Face what he had said. Face shrugged and then smiled at Hannibal, "just repenting sins in my past life."

"Too late for that kid, come on this will be like a walk in the park." Hannibal chuckled. Not convinced Face replied, "yeah ...., sure a piece of cake." Before Murdock could ask if he was needed on the mission, Hannibal preempted him and told him that as he was the only one really skilled at pulling people out of a hot zone when things got to hot, he'd only be required to fly them in and then come back and wait for further orders.

"I assume we are not doing this alone, or has the army decided that we are expendable after all?" Face asked sarcastically. "No Face, the general decided that we should take some company and has assigned Zeke and his platoon to join us, probably thinks that we being 'Special Forces' might be able to teach them a thing or two."

Murdock told Hannibal and Face that he'd meet them at the chopper pad and then left to ready his helicopter. "See you in five minutes Murdock." Hannibal said and then took Face with him to let Zeke know of the mission.

After Hannibal had explained that the general had assigned Zeke and his team to the mission, they made there way over to where Murdock was waiting. Once airborne, Hannibal gave them the run down of the mission.

"Intelligence has reported that the NVA are fast approaching an area that had been held by the American troops and was now in danger of being over run. We can't let this happen. It has also been confirmed that the NVA has moved in a large number of personnel and had taken the lives of many innocent victims." Hannibal reported in a somber tone.

"Let me guess, it's our job to help evict them from their present location." Face smirked.

"You got it kid." Hannibal grinned, while the rest of the platoon watched on. "Okay guys, drop zone coming up, be ready." Hannibal instructed and then signaled Murdock that they were ready.

"Be sure to write and send me a postcard." Murdock smiled as he watched them depart from the helicopter.

"Sure Murdock, but I can't guarantee finding a postal service around here." Face said before he too disembarked.

Once on the ground, Zeke ordered his men to listen to the colonel and do exactly as he said. "Face you take point, Ruiz you take rear guard, the rest of you follow at two second intervals and be quiet." Hannibal ordered and then took his place in line.

They had walked just over three clicks in total silence, when Face stopped abruptly and signaled for everyone else to do so. "Over there colonel," Face said gesturing to a group of NVA soldiers, "looks like we found the entrance to the front door."

Hannibal nodded in agreement and used his binoculars to focus in on what the soldiers were guarding so closely. It was a building that had three guards patrolling the outside of it. Hannibal continued to watch and then heard screams coming from the building.

"My God!" Hannibal exclaimed when he saw a woman come out supporting another woman who carried a dead child in her arms. "Colonel?" Face asked wanting to know what he had seen. Hannibal handed Face the binoculars and Face too uttered the same words that his colonel had only moments before.

Hannibal motioned for the men in his command to gather around and he began to lay out his plan. "Face, you and Zeke circle round back and take out any 'unfriendlies', but be careful." Face looked at Hannibal with an expression of 'would I be anything but'. It was rewarded with a stern comment from Hannibal. "I mean it kid, just do what you have to do and get back here."

Face, feeling like a teenager that had been given instructions on running an errand and not to muck about coming back, grinned at Hannibal. "Anything you say dad." Zeke who had been following the conversation between Hannibal and Face, smiled to himself when he heard Face's reply. He had thought it ironic that this exchange had taken place as only moments before he had been thinking that Hannibal looked on Face as a son. Especially the way he referred to him as 'kid'.

"Wallace you take Purcell and Johnson to the left and I'll take the rest with me to the right. Once the garrison is taken we get these refugees out of here. Understood?" Hannibal stated and then signaled for Face and Zeke to move out.

All was going as planned, the surprise attack by Hannibal with his team and Wallace with his overwhelmed the NVA soldiers that had not heard them coming. When they had heard movement and began to fire upon Hannibal and his men they were met with an exchange of gunfire.

Hannibal had completed the first part of the mission, to take the refugees out of harms way and had set about destroying the command centre that had been set up. "Okay back to where we split up from, we'll wait there for Face and Zeke." Hannibal ordered. Back at the meeting place, Hannibal trained his binoculars to the site that they had taken out. 'Come on kid....you're running out of time'. Hannibal thought to himself, checking his watch for the third time in as many minutes. He knew the rest of the men were getting anxious about keeping to time and had decided to move out from their position when he heard a loud explosion followed by gunfire.

"Stay where you are!" Hannibal ordered the men that were starting to move. "It's bad enough I have two good men down there, I do not wish to add to that number!" He berated. Without argument the men repositioned themselves and waited for Hannibal's next order.

What he saw next shook him to the core, his worst nightmare come true. Face and Zeke had been taken captive by the NVA soldiers that had survived the battle a short time before. Face was on his knees, obviously struggling to stay conscious. His hands were tied at each end to a length of bamboo, positioned behind his neck and resting on his shoulders. Hannibal also noticed that Face had been shot just below his right shoulder and had a gash on the right side of his head.

Moving the binoculars so that he could see Zeke, Hannibal saw that he was trussed in much the same way as Face, he too having an injury to the head. Hannibal watched and considered his options, knowing that his first priority was the safety of the refugees and now rescuing both Face and Zeke from enemy hands.

Zeke was forced to kneel in front of Face, with his back to him by the Viet Cong. He had a braided piece of rope put around his neck, like a collar and leash, the other end of it affixed to Face in the same manner. The VC colonel stood in front of the two American prisoners and ordered them to stand. "Didi ...get up!" Ordered the colonel.

Zeke was the first to stand and felt the rope around his neck pull. "Come on lieutenant, you've got to get up." Urged Zeke, turning to see Face struggle to get up. Face shook his head trying to regain a sense of balance, when he was hauled to his feet by two enemy soldiers beside him. He gasped as they pulled on his injured arm and again fought the blackness that was forcing to close in on his mind.

"Where are the other Americans?" shouted the VC colonel. When no answer was forthcoming he asked the question again to Face. "I ask you again lieutenant, ... where are they?" Face looked at his captor and smiled. "At a guess I'd say holidaying at Club Med." The VC colonel punched Face hard in his stomach for his insolent remark and again repeated the question.

Again Face smiled and offered another tropical venue as to his platoon's current location. Once more he received a resounding strike to his stomach and staggered forward to maintain his upright position.

Hannibal watched on with pride as Face took the abuse from his captor and wished feverously that Face was able to maintain his composure. Reluctantly he watched as Face and Zeke were led into the jungle.

"We'll be back guys that's a promise." Hannibal uttered and stood to lead his troop to where Murdock had been scheduled to meet them. The walk back through the jungle to the landing area was quiet and not without tension, everyone thinking about what was instore for their missing comrades.

Hannibal and Ruiz gave Murdock cover while he landed and the refugees climbed aboard, followed by the soldiers. "Get this bird off the ground Murdock!" Shouted Hannibal as he and Ruiz clambered aboard. The flight back to base was as somber as the trek through the jungle. Hannibal mentally chastised himself for not making sure that Face and Zeke were not going to have their position overrun and for not going back in for them we had seen that they had been captured.

When Murdock had landed the helicopter and disembarked he found Hannibal leaning against the tail of the slick. He had noticed that neither Face nor Zeke were on the flight from back from the jungle. "H-h-h-Hannibal?" Murdock asked tentatively. Hannibal looked up and saw Murdock, not able to meet his gaze he stared down at the ground once more.

"It's my fault." Hannibal whispered, not elaborating on what had happened, leaving Murdock to assume the worst. "Did he suffer much?" Murdock asked, keeping an even keel on his own emotions. "Wh... What?" Hannibal asked, unsure of what Murdock had asked.

Recollection of Murdock's question sinking in, Hannibal shook his head. "He's not dead Murdock," at least I hope not Hannibal wished, "Face and Zeke were taken captive by a VC colonel." Hannibal said. A few moments of silence lapsed while they thought about how Face and Zeke were coping.

Seeing that Murdock was visibly shaken by the news, Hannibal thought it best not to tell him that Face had been shot in the shoulder. He knew that Murdock only had a tenuous hold on keeping himself in check at the best of times, this would surely shatter him.

"Murdock as soon as we can be cleared we're going back on for them." Hannibal said, his words conveying a message of hope that their missing friends would be found alive. "Colonel we have to let BA know." Murdock condoled. Hannibal nodded and together they walked to the infirmary.

On reaching the infirmary they heard BA bellowing at the doctor, telling him that he didn't need to be in bed anymore. Hannibal chuckled at hearing BA's rantings, Murdock simply nodded his head, still deep in thought about their missing team member.

"Hey BA what's the problem?" Hannibal asked, standing at the foot of BA's bed. BA glared at the doctor and then spoke. "Doc says I gotta stay in bed, but I can't man. I feel a lot better now and.." Before BA could finish his tirade, Hannibal interjected. "Doc in your opinion is BA fit for duty?"

Hockinberry checked through BA's chart and glumly nodded. "I will release sergeant Baracus from my care, but if he shows any of the symptoms of his concussion I want him brought back here." Hannibal agreed to the doctor's requests and waited outside while BA got dressed.

"Where's Face, Hannibal?" BA asked looking around for his friend. Hannibal looked at BA, not really knowing how to tell him that he'd had to leave Face and Zeke behind. "Face and Zeke are being held prisoner by the NVA." Hannibal sighed heavily.

"We're going to get them aren't we?" BA asked earnestly. "As soon as Murdock has been cleared to air lift us to the present location that we have been given from our military intelligence boys." Hannibal answered reassuringly.

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The heat of the jungle was intensified by the injuries that both Zeke and Face had sustained. The going was hard and several times they both fell, causing strain on the other, the vine around their necks being unforgiving. The last time that Face stumbled, the VC soldiers drew the weapons and had made their intentions clear.

"Come on lieutenant. You can't stop now." Zeke uttered. He smiled to himself as Face managed to get to his knees in an effort to stand again once more. "Very good Sergeant. Keep him moving and you both live." The VC colonel taunted. Zeke looked at his captor and implored him to let them both rest. "For Christ's sake colonel the lieutenants injured he needs to rest. He needs medical attention. Let me help him."

The colonel signaled for his men to stop and untie the sergeant. "Any tricks sergeant and you and the lieutenant will be having a very long rest!" The colonel cautioned him. Zeke nodded his understanding and took the first aid pack handed to him.

"Lieutenant? Hey Face? You still with me buddy?" Zeke asked, trying to rouse Face. When he heard Face emit a low moan he continued with his ministrations. The bullet was lodged deep, just under his clavicle and the wound bleeding profusely. Carefully Zeke packed the infected wound with the semi sterile pads he had been given and taped them in place. "Sorry Face, it's the best that I can do for now." Zeke apologized and then helped Face to his feet. Taking another bandaged he wrapped it around Face's head and grinned as he did so. "You can buy me a beer fort his when we get back to our base." He saw Face smile and knew that he was at least able to understand what he had said to him.

Zeke estimated that they had walked eleven clicks in all, since being taken captive at the ammunition dump, buy the time they had reached the NVA Headquarters. At the compound Face and Zeke were shepherded off to where other POW's were being held. After they had been untied from the bamboo shafts they were ushered into a small cage, not big enough to stand up straight in or lie down in properly. Zeke helped Face to sit with his back against the side and to rest his head in the corner.

Face thanked Zeke for his help and closed his eyes to get the much needed rest that his body craved. While Face slept, Zeke rechecked the wound to Face's shoulder which had continued to bleed through the pads he had taped in place. He silently cursed himself that he was unable to do more for Face and sat beside him.

The next time that Face and Zeke awoke was to find VC guards running the butts of their rifles along the bamboo bars of the cage. "You come. Now!" Ordered one of the guards, gesturing to Face. "Khong!" Zeke exclaimed, trying to stop the guards from taking Face.

"Huh?" Face asked, disorientated as to his whereabouts. Zeke saw the confusion in Face's eyes and tried to explain to him that the guards were wanting him to go with them.

Face moved to the cell door and waited for the guards to open it. When Zeke protested again, Face shook his head and said it would be all right. While Face was hauled to his feet by the guards, he prayed that Face was right. He continued to watch Face until he could no longer see him, and then shook the bars on the cell in frustration.

Face was forced to stand in front of the VC general, who ran the camp that he had been incarcerated in. Struggling to retain his composure he looked straight ahead at the wall he was facing. His eyes focusing on a spider that was weaving its web, while the general barked out his questions.

"I know you are 'Special Forces' where is the rest of your team? How did you know of the ammunition supply at the village? Where is your base? What is your firepower?" Each time the general asked a question there was no response. He took a riding crop from beside the door and struck it against his desk. "I am not a patient man, lieutenant. You will answer me!"

Face continued to remain silent. Not even flinching when the general struck him with the whip. "Again lieutenant .., where are your bases?" The general shouted, losing his own composure. Twice more he struck Face with the whip, causing him to whimper when it connected with his wounded shoulder.

Finally Face spoke revealing only his name rank and serial number. "Templeton Peck, Lieutenant..." He repeated again before being struck by the guards that held him. The general nodded for them to continue and waited until it was apparent that his prisoner was not able to sustain the abuse any longer. The guards let their prisoner slump to the floor and waited further orders from their commander.

"I am losing my patience with you lieutenant ...answer me!" The general bellowed once more. His voice could be heard far across the compound.

"Khuong Biet!" Face spat, from his position on the floor. He hoped that he had gotten the translation right and mentally chastised himself for not learning a bit more of the Vietnamese language.

Angered at the reply from his prisoner, the general viciously kicked Face in his ribs and back. When his prisoner was rendered unconscious from the assault, he ordered his guards to take him back to his cell.

Zeke saw two guards dragging Face back to the cell and quickly moved away from the cell door so that they could deposit their prisoner. When they had left, he crawled to Face and turned him on his back and assessed his injuries. "Wonder what the other guy looks like." Zeke said to himself.

"Pretty good." Face gasped between painful breaths. Zeke was surprised at the answer and checked to make sure that it was Face that had spoken to him.

"Thought you said you were going to be all right." Zeke playfully scolded him.

"Apart from a few sore ribs, I'm all right." Face coughed.

"Oh and those are little 'love taps' across your face and ribs then?" Zeke chagrined. Face shrugged and closed his eyes, grimacing at the movement. "Take it easy pal, I'll see if I can get some first aid supplies for you."

The next time the guards did their rounds, Zeke asked them for some clean bandages and medicine. One of the guards left, going towards the general's office. Zeke accepted the meager food and water supplies that they had been given and set about cleaning Face's injuries.

The general returned with the guard and looked at Face. The lieutenant was in obvious discomfort and becoming delirious from the infection in his shoulder. "When the lieutenant gives me the answers I want then I will give you the medical supplies for him." Without saying anymore or giving Zeke the opportunity to object, he left, ordering his men to follow.

During the night, Zeke awoke to hear Face moaning in pain. He tried to console Face, wiping his forehead with a damp cloth. He could feel Face's fever getting worse and wished that the general would have a change of heart. After a few minutes Face soon settled back to sleep. Zeke watched Face for a bit longer before he to fell asleep.

*************************************************************************

0500 Hours

"BA are you sure you're up to this?" Hannibal asked watching BA hoist his pack up onto his shoulders. "Sure Hannibal. So don't think you can go sneakin' off without me man!" BA growled.

Hannibal smiled and told BA he would never dream of it. As they walked over to the waiting helicopter, the members of Zeke's platoon caught them up. "Good morning gentlemen." Hannibal greeted them, taking a puff on his cigar. Murdock heard Hannibal and scrambled out of the helicopter. "All fueled and cleared to go when you're ready colonel." He said and then looked at BA. "How's the head?" Murdock asked.

"A lot better, so long as you don't go crashing this bird." BA grinned and then boarded the helicopter, with everyone else following suit. "Okay Murdock I've marked on here the drop site, this si as close as we can get to the NVA Headquarters without letting them know we're coming for breakfast." Hannibal explained, before he too, took his place in the helicopter.

1500 metres from the drop zone, Murdock told Hannibal that the site was coming up and that they had better get ready. "See you in 10 hours Murdock, and don't hang around get yourself out of there if we're not back in time." Hannibal replied.

Murdock agrees but then makes a suggestion of his own. "Hannibal, if you're not there on time I'll come back every two hours for you." Hannibal nodded his head in agreement and as the helicopter got closer to the ground he disembarked using the ropes that the rest of the soldiers had used.

Once on the ground, Hannibal regrouped the men under his command and formulated the strategy that would not only see Face and Zeke rescued but also the NVA HQ destroyed.

As they headed further into the 'hot zone' Hannibal sent Ruiz to take point and Purcell to take rear guard. Hannibal had calculated that they were 12 clicks from their appointed target and urged the soldiers to move at a pace that would not see them spend all their energy before it was needed.

*************************************************************************

"Wake up!" The VC guard said as he hit the side of the bamboo cell with his rifle. Warily Zeke rubbed his eyes and checked on Face who was still sleeping. "Get him up now...., didi mau!" Shouted the guard, aiming his rifle at Zeke.

Zeke reluctantly obeyed the command and gently shook Face to wake him. "Go away." Face mumbled, trying to push Zeke's hands away from him. "Come on Face or he'll put you to sleep permanently." Zeke replied ominously.

Face gingerly opened his eyes to see the VC guard standing at the cell, rifle in hand. "You woke me up for this." Face complained as Zeke helped him to sit up. The guard called for his compatriot to assist with escorting the prisoners to the general's office.

Zeke grabbed hold of Face before he fell and hit the ground. "Lean on me Face. We'll do this together." Zeke offered. The walk to the general's office was a slow and painful one for Face. "Just a little bit more." Urged Zeke, catching Face as he stumbled over his own feet.

"Uh huh." Face mumbled and continued on to the general's office.

When they had reached the general's office they were each restrained in the seats that they were directed to. Manacled so that they could not move, the general began his interrogation again.

"Same questions as yesterday lieutenant and this time your friend can watch you're suffering. Do you have anything to add to yesterday's questions?" The general asked.

Face looked up at the general and grinned. "Well we never did get to a first name basis."

The general rewarded Face's insolent remark with a strike to the side of his head. "Again lieutenant the same question." Glowered the general.

"Your English is really good. Better than my viet..." Face said before being struck once more. Zeke could do nothing but watch the exchange between his friend and their captor. "If a name is so important to you lieutenant mine is Kwan Chang. Now answer my questions."

Face maintained his composure and stared straight ahead. Five minutes of total silence passed before Face spoke. "Look general Chang, I've got a splitting headache and just don't feel like playing twenty questions right now." Face said with all the charm that he could muster.

"Lieutenant, you answer my questions then we can give you some medicine." Chang bargained, hoping that Peck would accept his offer.

"How about a free ride out of here for us and the other POW's you've got here." Face countered.

Zeke was amazed at the stand Face was taking, especially in his condition. 'How much longer can you keep this up Face', Zeke thought to himself. His thoughts of Face's ability to avoid answering Chang's barrage of questions was brought to an abrupt halt when he saw Chang strike Face so hard that he fell to the floor on his side.

Face tried to remain quiet. not wanting to give Chang the satisfaction of hearing his muffled cries of pain. His eyes remained closed as he was uprighted to a sitting position again. "Sooner or later you will beg for my mercy and you will only be to willingly to tell me what I want to know." Chang mocked, forcing his prisoner to look at him. He was becoming annoyed at the way the lieutenant could so easily regain his composure, ready to deal with whatever Chang decided to do to him.

"If you won't talk, maybe your friend will .....what do you say sergeant feel like talking or as you say has the cat got your tongue?" Chang sneered. Before giving Zeke and opportunity to answer he ordered the guards to put Zeke with the other prisoners.

"Maybe some time apart, might loosen your tongue." Chang continued as Zeke was escorted from the office.

"I doubt it." Face hissed as he too was led from the office.

*************************************************************************

The trek through the thick growth of the jungle had gone without incident as Hannibal and his team had reached their destination. Hannibal had signaled for everyone to remain quiet while he perused the area before him.

What he saw disturbed him greatly, he saw Zeke placed in a cell with four other POW's and Face in a cell, set apart from the others. Hannibal used the binoculars to better assess the situation and strategic placing of the guards, office and other buildings. 'This is not going to be easy' Hannibal thought to himself. He knew that to try and take the command centre now would be futile, the men in his own command were exhausted and desperately needed to rest.

"I suggest that you make yourselves comfortable, we'll hit the camp at sunrise. I'll take first watch. BA you take second watch, Ruiz you're up third." Hannibal said before settling into a comfortable position and devouring his food rations.

Following Hannibal's orders the rest of the squad quietly ate, then made themselves as comfortable as the dense growth of the jungle would permit and got the rest that their bodies screamed for.

During the night Hannibal watched the camp intently, focusing on the comings and goings from the office, then to the guards sleeping quarters and observing their shift rotation. In the stillness of the night he heard the formidable cries of pain from the tortured prisoners.

He used the night vision glasses to see how Face was doing and silently wished that Face was not in that present predicament. 'It will all be over in the morning Face, I promise'. Hannibal said to himself and then gently shook BA awake to take the next watch.

While BA watched the compound he wondered what sort of plan Hannibal would come up with. BA chuckled quietly to himself as he thought about it. "He'll probably use his famous half pincer maneuver."

"I heard that BA," Hannibal scolded playfully "and besides its called a classic improvised half pincer inside a guarded perimetre." BA was surprised to hear from Hannibal that last time he had checked on him he was asleep.

"Aw man, what you doin' awake? You ain't gonna be no good to anyone without some rest." complained BA.

"Couldn't really sleep. Too much to think about." Hannibal admitted as he stretched. "Besides nature calls ...back in a minute." BA nodded as Hannibal got up and disappeared behind a large tree.

While BA was watching the compound he saw several soldiers come from the office and wake the sleeping prisoners. Zeke and the four POWs he had been incarcerated with were roughly ushered from their cell. Restrained with their hands bound by braided rope and attached to a length of rope which was wrapped around the waist of each prisoner they were forced to walk single file, all bound to each other.

The soldiers then moved to the cell which held Face and prodded him awake with the barrel of their rifles, through the cage. "Get up! Move!" Shouted one of the guards. Face tried to rub the sleep from his eyes, jarring his shoulder as he did so. He cursed under his breath and then moved from his cell.

The blood loss he had suffered coupled with the lack of nourishment caused Face to collapse to the ground. The VC soldiers laughed and jeered at his clumsiness and took the opportunity to lay several swift kicks into his already abused ribs. Picking him up they manacled his hands and held him in a firm grasp.

Seeing this happen to his friend, the man he considered to be family to him, BA winced and muttered several profanities. "What's up BA?" Hannibal asked when he heard BA use words that he had never heard him say before. Without saying anything BA handed Hannibal the binoculars.

"My God!" Hannibal exclaimed and quickly set about rousing the sleeping soldiers. He quickly explained the situation that he had witnessed and formulated his plan. "BA you take Johnson, Purcell and Baker and circle around to the left. Wait for my signal and then move in." Ordered Hannibal. BA nodded and waited for Hannibal to finish. "I'll take the rest and cover the right flank. We can't let the VC take them any further into the 'hot zone'." Hannibal said, looking at the prisoners in the VC compound.

Silently they moved off with into the jungle, each man knowing that the objective was to rescue their comrades and destroy the NVA compound. Hannibal led his part of the platoon to a sheltered thicket and watched as BA mirrored his actions on the other side.

Hannibal scanned the area in front of him again, and observed the soldiers readying the prisoners. Zeke was at the head of the line and had been ordered to start walking, the other prisoners fell in step with him. Hannibal saw Face at the end of the line, being escorted by two of the VC guards. He could see that Face was having difficulty remaining upright and silently prayed that he'd be able to maintain his equilibrium a little longer. To fall now would have dire consequences for Face.

"When do we move in Colonel?" Wallace asked, readying his rifle. Hannibal lowered the binoculars.

"We move in two minutes captain, be ready." replied Hannibal.

BA signaled to Hannibal that he was ready and watched as his commanding officer held up two fingers. "We move in two minutes." BA relayed to the men who were assigned to him.

The wait for the countdown of the two minutes was full of anticipation. Each person went through the maneuver in their own mind, making sure that they knew exactly what they had to do and how to achieve the objective at hand.

"NOW!" Hannibal ordered. BA saw the colonel moving out and ordered huis men to do likewise.

Zeke saw Hannibal moving through the jungle cover and shouted at his fellow prisoners. "Get down!". The prisoners all fell to the ground, following Zeke's command as gun fire erupted around them.

Face was still standing, being held in a firm grasp by two VC soldiers. One of the soldiers had his gun aimed at him, threatening to kill him should he move.

"Face! Get down. Now!" BA shouted at him as he took aim and fired upon one of the guards holding Face.

It took a while for Face to realize what was happening and when he felt the grip on his wounded arm lessen he threw himself to the ground. Like the other prisoners he remained stock still while the exchange of bullets continued. Trying to see what was going on, he opened his eyes in time to see one of the enemy soldiers falling rapidly in his direction. Unable to move from the path that the falling body was taking he braced himself for the impact. The weight of the dead soldier falling on his shoulder caused him to cry out in pain. The searing pain swept through his body. The numbness that he felt in his mind was a welcome relief. He succumbed to its peaceful state.

The battle was short lived between the VC and their sworn enemy. Hannibal's first priority was the safety of the prisoners. He ordered Wallace and Purcell to set about freeing them while he rushed to his fallen friend.

"Face! Face!" Hannibal shouted trying desperately to get some repsonse from him. "Captain Lee .....over here when you can." Hannibal called, still trying to rouse Face.

"How is he Hannibal?" BA asked, trying to break the crude and severely outdated manacles that encased Face's wrists. Before Hannibal could answer, Lee was at Face's side checking the injured that he had sustained.

Lacking patience Hannibal hovered over the field doctor while he did a cursory examination. "He's lucky to be alive ..., the infection from the bullet wound has peregrinated ..."

"It's pera ga what?" BA asked confused at the terminology that Lee was using. "Peregrinate sergeant. Meaning to travel or journey." Lee smiled and then resumed his examination of the lieutenant.

"Hey doc, you using those big words again that no one understands?" ribbed Zeke as he approached the three men working on Face. Hannibal looked up to see Zeke with a bandage wrapped around his head, he acknowledged Zeke's presence with a nod of his head and then he returned to helping captain Lee.

"Sergeant can you assemble that Jordan frame now please...as soon as you've done that the sooner we can get going from here." Hannibal instructed. Surveying the damage to the NVA HQ he continued, "it won't be long before we get company. The smoke signal is pretty obvious."

Zeke agreed. The grenades launched at the building had not only destroyed it, but had also claimed the lives of the VC soldiers who had taken refuge in it during the attack. The bodies of the enemy soldiers that were outside the building during the exchange of gunfire lay where they fell.

Ruiz and Wallace had checked them for signs of life. None registered. The assault had been pretty much one sided with Chang's men caught completely off guard by the swiftness in which it was deployed.

As soon as Lee had managed to staunch the blood flow enough from Peck's shoulder so that he could be moved, Hannibal and BA gently lifted him onto the frame and secured him to it. Zeke had quietly asked Baker to help BA with the lightweight stretcher, therefore allowing Hannibal to be in full command on the platoon.

Before they left the compound Hannibal searched for any documentation that might aid in their efforts of defeating the VC. He pocketed two small diaries which had come through the fire slightly singed.

The walk back to the designated landing zone was slow but uneventful. Hannibal had not rushed the men in his command, the assault on the NVA HQ went quicker than he had anticipated. The reward now being a relaxed pace to meet with Murdock. Hannibal walked beside BA and kept a wary eye on his lieutenant.

"Wonder if Murdock will be on time." Hannibal said to no one in particular. BA nodded and gave a wry smile. "Provided he ain't got too busy reading comics he'll be here." At BA's comment Baker turned his head and looked over his shoulder at Hannibal.

"Permission to speak freely sir?" Baker asked.

Taking a cigar from his shirt pocket, Hannibal nodded, intrigued at what the private was wanting to say. "Go ahead private, and private?"

"Yes sir." Baker responded not sure of whether he had over stepped a boundary or not.

"I'm not all for formal protocol this far out in the jungle, so you can drop the permission bit...okay?" Smiled Hannibal.

"Yes sir. Does Captain Murdock enjoy reading comics?" Baker asked uncertain if he'd ask to much of a personal question. BA snorted and chuckled quietly, wondering how Hannibal was going to answer that one. A special forces pilot enjoying comics.

Getting the gist of BA's quite chuckle, Hannibal set about answering Baker. "Yes private, Murdock does very much enjoy reading comics....., has something to do with being at one with the universe..., according to Murdock that is. Why do you ask?"

Baker quietly mused to himself about his response. Before he could reply to Hannibal's question, Zeke furnished the answer. "Colonel, I think what Baker is trying to say is that he too also enjoys comics and has been looking for someone to trade with for a while now."

"Oh I see." Hannibal smiled, finally lighting his cigar. "I am sure that Murdock would be only to happy to trade a few comics. Hey BA did you and Face ever get that new order of comics for Murdock organized for his birthday?"

BA grinned and told Hannibal that it was all under control. "Face has already put the requisition form in for another supply!" Hannibal didn't doubt what BA had said at all, after all Face had managed to get a Cadillac convertible in the middle of the jungle.

Baker exchanged a bewildered glance with Zeke, who had started grinning. "He always could get anything from anyone and talk anyone out of anything."

"Only another two clicks to go before we get to the landing zone and we still two hours to spare. Anyone bring lunch?" Hannibal asked.

"If Face was awake we could have asked him to organize take out and..." BA started to say then stopped abruptly when he heard Face coughing.

"Put the stretcher down guys." Hannibal ordered and then called Lee. "Face? Face.., speak to me kid." Hannibal said quietly. Face looked up at Hannibal and tried to laugh, instead he wound up coughing. "What's so funny kid?" Hannibal asked.

"I thought I was dreaming." Face replied weakly. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, trying to deal with the pain the he was feeling. When trying to inhale a deep breath he gasped and began to cough violently.

"Take it easy lieutenant. Just short quick breaths will suffice." Lee said, placing his fingers on the side of Face's neck. 'A little too fast' he thought. Hannibal caught the concerned look in his eyes and motioned with his own eyes for him to follow him.

"What's wrong doc?" Hannibal asked.

Lee sighed heavily and then set about explaining the problem to Hannibal. "Colonel, his broken ribs are putting too much pressure on his lungs...the pressure has to be relieved. To do it I have to put drain in. That part is easy enough, but I don't know how it is going to maintain its vacuum."

"What do you mean doc?" BA asked, having heard the conversation.

"In order for the drain to work properly it needs a vacuum, preferably a container that we can make air tight." Lee replied. BA suggested that a canteen could serve just as well, to which Lee agreed.

Hannibal nodded his understanding and offered whatever assistance may be required. "Well no time like the present." Hannibal shrugged and walked back to Face.

Hannibal saw that Face was still awake and knelt beside him. "Hey kid, doc says he's going to have to put a drain in your side, to help your lungs."

BA also knelt beside his injured friend. "Hang tough Face. That crazy fool Murdock will be here soon to pick us up." Face nodded at BA's somewhat encouraging words and prepared himself mentally for what was going to happen.

"Ready kid?" Hannibal asked, brushing hair out of Face's eyes.

"Sure... a walk in the park right?" Face smiled at Hannibal, recalling one of his colonel's favourite expressions. "Hey Hannibal?" Face said.

"Yeah kid."

"Don't count...., you never count properly." Face replied between clenched teeth.

"Okay lieutenant there's no easy way of doing this, it's going to hurt like hell." Lee said in a soothing voice as he prepared the area of Face's chest.

"Arrrrrgh!" Face gasped when he felt the drain tube inserted between his ribs. Unable to remain focused any longer he slipped into unconsciousness once more. With the drain in place, Lee put the canteen beside Face on the stretcher.

"Okay lets get going, the sooner we're out of there the better." Hannibal stated and lifted the stretcher, giving BA a break from carrying it. Johnson relieved Baker from his end of the stretcher.

With less than 500 metres to go before they got to the landing zone, Zeke suddenly stumbled and collapsed. "Doc! Hey doc!" BA called frantically.

Hannibal told Baker to stop and put the stretcher down. He gave his lieutenant a quick glance and then went to help Zeke.

"What happened?" Asked Hannibal "We were walking along and the next thing I knew he was on the ground." BA shrugged. Hannibal nodded and waited for Lee to finish examining Zeke.

"The gash on his head has been bleeding and his pupils are unevenly dilated." Lee stated and proceeded to change the dressing. Hannibal unpacked the second Jordan frame that they had brought with them, from his pack and quickly assembled it. "Just as well we packed an extra one."

Without needing to be asked Horn and BA picked up the stretcher and continued on to the landing zone. Arriving at the site they still had twenty minutes to spare.

Horn took his harmonica from his pack and played a soft rendition of the animals' song 'We gotta get out of this place', while Hannibal and Lee checked over the wounded men. Hannibal sat down next to Horn after he'd seen to Face and Zeke. "You're pretty good."

"Thank you sir." Horn acknowledge, fumbling with the harmonica. He began to play another tune which Hannibal recognized and began lightly singing to. Before he knew it he was joined by the rest of Zeke's platoon.

"I see a red door, and I want to paint it black. No colors anymore--I wanted them to turn black." Before they could sing anymore, BA asked them if they could sing something less depressing. Hannibal grinned and whispered to Horn.

After two counts of the new tune everyone was singing again. 'If the enemy could see us now,' Hannibal thought and then joined in.

"I'm up every mornin' just to keep a job, I gotta a file mile wade through the hustle and the hub. Sounds of the city pounding in my brain, while another day goes down the drain. Yeah yeah yeah, well it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows, no one owns a piece of my time..."

"BA what's the problem you don't like this one either." Hannibal asked, leaving the others to continue singing.

"Aw man, it ain't the song, it's just that you all sound like cats fighting in an alley." BA smirked. Hannibal decided to ignore BA and continued to sing.

"...gotta make my way, while I live for the end of today. Yeah yeah yeah, 'cause it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows, no one owns a piece of my time and there's a long haired girl, in a place I know, to ease my troubled mind, yeah."

"Heads up boys, there's Murdock." Hannibal pointed. He and BA picked up Face's stretcher while Purcell and Wallace took Zeke's.

"Somebody order pizza?" Murdock asked from the window of the helicopter.

"Did you get the ones with extra cheese Murdock?" Hannibal called when everyone was on board.

"I got the ones with extra anchovies, 'cause Face likes them. Y'know Hannibal I might be pizza maker when I leave the army, whadda ya think?"

"Murdock what I think is that you'd better get this bird out of here ..but yeah it does have possibilities...mmm free pizza." Hannibal smiled.

The return flight was too quiet for Hannibal's liking. "Murdock can you turn the radio on, it's as quiet as church back here."

"Will do colonel. Found a new station, it's pretty good, the guys name is Adrian Cronauer, bit of a radical as far as the army is concerned but I like him. Hey colonel how are Face and Zeke doin'?"

"Still no change Murdock, I'll let you know if there is.... Hey it's top of the hour turn on the radio might be able to catch some news."

"Okay colonel, but I did warn you." Murdock said turning the radio on so that everyone could hear it.

"We're back! Here's the news. All the news, that new and approved by the US army. The sweetest smelling army in the world. Dit dit dit dit, ch ch ch ch. Great Britain recognized the island state of Singapore. How do you recognize an island? Do you go ex...., hey wait, no don't tell me wait. What? Didn't we meet last year at the Fyman Barmitzvah. You look a lot like Hawaii. Didn't we meet last year at the Peninsula club?"

"Hey Murdock.....,you're right this guy is nuts." Hannibal chuckled.

"Yeah man, like that crazy fool flying this helicopter." BA shook his head but continued to listen to the news announcer.

"The Mississippi river broke through a protective dyke today. What is a protective dyke? Is that a large woman standing by the river going 'don't go near there!' Don't panic. Don't go near there, get away from the river stay away from there. I know that we can't say the word dyke, you can't even say lesbian, it's women in comfortable shoes."

"Hey Hannibal it's awful quiet back there, you want me to turn the radio off?" Murdock asked.

Before Hannibal could answer everyone including Face answered "NO!".

When Hannibal heard Face's voice he smiled. "Good to have you back again kid. You need anything?"

Face shook his head. "Hannibal?"

"Yes kid." Hannibal responded, anxious that Face may want something.

Face beckoned him to come closer. "Be quiet. I want to listen to the radio." BA also asked Hannibal to be quiet and for Murdock to turn up the volume some more. With the volume turned up, everyone listed to the show once again.

"Now here's the weather, we're going to go right to Roosevelt E Roosevelt...., Roosevelt how's it going? Adrian I'm with somebody. Don't ever come here and bother me right now. Well thanks Roosevelt...can't you give us a little weather? Not now man...., I'm on the balcony and I'm trying to score. Back off! What's the weather like? You got a window ...open it. Thank you Roosevelt we'll have to go to someone else for the weather I guess we'll have to go all the way to Washington, weather central to Walter Kronkite. "Walter what's the weather like? I just want to begin by saying to Roosevelt E Roosevelt, what it is, what it shall be, what it was. Weather out there today is hot and shitty, with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the North. Basically it's hotter than a snake's arse in a wagon rut. .........Okay we're gonna hit some songs at you right now, coming your way ...."

"How did you like that kid?" Hannibal asked face when the song started to play.

Face gave a wry smile. "He'd make a perfect match for Murdock ... all the voices.." Before he could finish talking he was wracked with a coughing spasm.

Hannibal gave Lee a concerned look before saying anything to Face. "Save your strength kid, we're nearly there. Murdock how much longer?"

"Base is coming into sight now colonel. Landing in five minutes." Murdock answered and started his approach. When the helicopter had landed Murdock made a brief announcement. "Ladies and gentlemen that concludes your flight. Thank you for flying 'Miracle Airlines' the only airline where lady luck is your co-pilot."

"Nice Murdock." Hannibal grinned and then followed the medics to the infirmary. On arrival at the infirmary, he found out that Face had been taken straight into surgery. Zeke had been taken to an examination room. There being nothing that he could do, Hannibal sat and waited for news.

After three hours in surgery Hockinberry finally emerged. He raised his hand to stop the barrage of questions. "Lieutenant Peck, is in recovery. The operation went well and you'll be able to see him in a short while." Preempting the next question Hockinberry continued. "We've repaired his shoulder and he is in a cast from his fingers to the collar bone. We've had to put some stitches in the gash to his head and his ribs have been strapped and the infection is under control. In all colonel, your lieutenant is very lucky. He'll be extremely sore over the next few days and will be pretty much sedated during that time."

"Thanks doc....., for everything. First the sergeant now the lieutenant." Hannibal smiled and shook his hand. "At this rate I should be billing you for the expenses. Give me a few minutes to finish up here and then you can come through and see him."

BA, Murdock and Hannibal went through to the post operative room and found Face being attended to by a beautiful looking nurse. "Hi my name's Cass." She said in a sultry voice.

"Ahem," Hannibal cleared his throat and began the introductions. "I'm colonel Hannibal Smith. This is captain HM Murdock and Sergeant BA Baracus." Hannibal smiled.

Cass returned the smiles. "I'll leave you to visit with the lieutenant. Be sure to call if you need anything."

"Doesn't Face look like the epitome of innocence, lying there like that." Murdock grinned.

BA shook his head and growled. "Fool you more crazy for thinking that, Face is probably scheming how to get that nurse to go out with him."

"BA he ain't even conscious." Murdock started to complain before Hannibal interjected.

"Somehow I doubt Face will object to having such a pretty nurse. Come on we better see how Zeke is and go through the debriefing."

After they had seen Zeke and found out that he was doing okay, and had gone through the debriefing they met up with the rest of Zeke's platoon at the bar. Ruiz had fed the jukebox some coins and music filled the air. After the last song had played, Hannibal decided he was going to call it a night. BA and Murdock finished their drinks and followed suit.

"Goooooood Moooooorning Vietnaaaaaam! Hey this is not a test this is rock and roll. Time to rock it from the Delta to the DMZ..."

"what the hell is that!" Hannibal bellowed trying to adjust the pillow over his ears.

Murdock gulped and turned down the volume. "Good morning colonel. Was the radio to loud?"

"Loud Murdock? No it wasn't loud whatever gives you that idea! Though I am sure that half of Da Nang can hear it." Hannibal grumbled turning on his side. "The one day I get off and you wake me early what time is it any.." His words were cut short by the radio announcer.

"....Hey is it a little too early for being that loud. Hey too late. It's 'O' 600, what does the 'O' stand for? Oh my God it's early. Speaking of early ...na na na, na na na, na na na..., picture a man going on a journey beyond sight and sound he's left Crete, he's entered the demilitarized zone. What is the demilitarized zone? It sounds like something out of the Wizard of Oz. Ooooh nooo, don't go in there. O-E-O Ho Chi Min. Look you've landed in Saigon you're among the little people now..."

"Murdock if you don't turn that down you're going to be one of the little people!" BA growled. Hannibal turned over and told BA to stop being so grumpy. "BA this guy is like Murdock he grows on you after a while."

"Yeah like fungus....Hannibal make him turn it down before the whole camp comes in here." BA shook his fist at Murdock.

"Uh BA? Too late ...come in guys." Hannibal said putting his hands behind his head.

"Morning colonel." Was the chorused repsonse to his invitation.

"Hey Murdock has much of the show happened yet?" Wallace asked, taking a sip from his coffee. Murdock shook his head and accepted the cup of coffee that Purcell handed to him. BA and Hannibal also took the cups offered to them.

"This is the life...., days off and coffee in bed." Hannibal smiled and continued to listen to the radio.

"Colonel?" Murdock uttered. Before Hannibal could answer he was told to be quiet and enjoy his morning off. Murdock's was one of the only working radios in camp and they wanted to listen to it.

"...we represent the Northern Army, Northern Army. Oh no, follow the Ho Chi Min trail, follow the Ho Chi Min trail. Oh I'll get you my pretty...,oh my God it's the wicked witch of the North. It's Hanoi Hannah! Now little G.I you and your little cuedu too ..ah ha ha ha ha. Adrian, Adrian what are you doing Adrian? Oh Hannah you slut you've been down everything but the Titanic. Stop it right now. Ahhhh I'm melting. But hey here's some advice don't eat at a restaurant located next to a pound. But hey lets check in the fields now..., hi can you help me? What's your name?...."

Raucous laughter could be heard from the tent. It didn't take Colonel Morrison long to locate which tent was Hannibal's. When he entered the tent, he found Hannibal still under their covers and Murdock sitting cross legged on his bed with members of Zeke's squad.

"No need to get up gentlemen, just wanted to make sure that colonel Smith was following orders and taking the day off. Say isn't this Adrian Cronauer?" Morrison asked.

Murdock offered him a seat, to which he declined and said that he'd listen to the radio at the base commander's office. After he'd gone they resumed listening to the broadcast.

"Roosevelt what town are you stationed in? I'm stationed in Phun Tang. Well thank you Roosevelt what's the weather like out there? It's HOT ...,damn hot, real hot, hotter than the days in my shorts, I could cook things in it..., a little crotch pot cooking. Well can you tell me what it feels like. Fool it's hot I told you. Damn. Were you born on the sun? It's damn hot, it's so damn hot I saw one of these little guys in an orange robe burst into flames. It's that hot. You know what I'm talking about? What do you think it's going to be like tonight? It's going to be hot and wet. That's nice if you're with a lady, but it ain't no good if you're in the jungle. Thank you Roosevelt here's a song coming you're way right now. 'Nowhere to run to'. By Martha and the Vandellas. Yes!"

"You know BA, I could be like Adrian don't you think?" Murdock said, making his hands into puppets and performing his rendition of Adrian's show.

BA climbed out of his bed and placed his hands around Murdock's throat. "Hannibal can't you make this crazy fool stop his yammering for just one day? I'm getting tired of his rap man."

"BA I'd love to stay and watch the outcome but I want to go and see how Face and Zeke are doing this morning." Hannibal left the tent, leaving Murdock to persuade BA not to choke him.

Approaching the infirmary Hannibal saw Face's doctor. "Morning doc. How's Face? I mean lieutenant Peck."

"I've just checked on him. His temperature climbed a little during the night, but he's resting comfortably. He came to a few minutes ago and was asking for you. I was on my way over to get you."

"Well doc, let's not keep the lieutenant waiting. Lead the way." Hannibal smiled and followed Hockinberry.

When they reached Face's bed, Hannibal found a chair and sat down beside him. "Hey Face. Heard you were looking for me. How are you feeling?"

"Sore." Face replied, putting as much effort into the one word as he could muster. He winced slightly when he turned to see Hannibal more clearly.

"Take it easy kid," Hannibal said placing a his hand on Face's, careful not to knock the IV line, "so how do you like the nurse?"

The grin on the lieutenant's face told him everything he needed to know. Encouraging Face to rest, Hannibal proceeded to tell him all about Murdock's latest obsession and BA's threatening to turn Murdock into one of the little people of Saigon. Face grimaced when he started to laugh, gritting his teeth against the pain.

"Sorry kid didn't mean to do hat to you. Nurse? Nurse?" Hannibal called out when he saw that Face was in more pain than he was letting on. Cass came to Face's aid and after conversing with the doctor she told Face that she was going to give him some morphine for the pain and to help him relax. After she administered the drug, Hannibal saw Face's eyelids getting heavy.

"Say goodnight Face." Hannibal smiled and pulled the blankets up around him.

"Good night Face." Peck replied with a sly smile.

"Smart arse." Hannibal gently chided him. When he saw that Face was asleep he moved further down the corridor to find Zeke.

"Morning Hannibal." Zeke said, putting down the newspaper that he was reading. "How's Face?" He gestured to Hannibal to sit on the bed that was empty next to his.

"Cass has just given him some morphine. Do you feel up to talking about what happened at the NVA compound?" Hannibal asked.

Zeke shifted his position making himself more upright, then began to tell Hannibal what had gone on. "When we were first taken there, Chang, the VC colonel, saw that Face was a green beret. It was quiet obvious the disdain that Chang felt towards him. Face was interrogated several times and each time he came back to the cell they held us in sporting a new collection of bruises and cuts. We were separated, I was put in with the other POW's while Face was held in solitary confinement. Chang thought it would make Face talk. Thinking that Face would give him the locations of the American forces. I heard Face yell only once during all the punishment that Chang was dishing out. But not once did he reveal the locations. Face showed the same guts as he did when I first met him."

When Zeke had finished speaking, Hannibal sat quietly ad digested all that Zeke had told him. After a few minutes he spoke. "Face and you have known each other for a while, how did you first meet? If you don't want to say anything about that I'll understand."

Zeke thought about what he was going to say to Hannibal, he had promised Face that he wouldn't say anything, but now felt that this would be an opportune time. Especially now that Hannibal would have the time to think about things before confronting Face.

"This doesn't go any further than us right?" Zeke asked before deciding to continue. When Hannibal nodded and made a promise not to say anything to Face, Zeke told the tale of the infamous meeting. "I was on MP duty with a friend in Quang Tri. A fight had broken out at the local bar, the odds were stacked heavily against Face and a corporal by the name of Jefferson. It was a battel ground within a battle ground. When we arrived it was eight against two - the lieutenant and the corporal. When we entered the bar, Face was being held by two huge men while the other two were laying into him with a series of punches and kicks. He was a bloody mess in more ways than one. The corporal had not survived the attack and when we took them all into custody to try an sort out what had gone on, Face slipped his handcuffs and put his hands around the ring leaders neck. Before my eyes I saw him snap it like it was a twig. The fury that was in his eyes was so unsettling, I picked up the nearest thing to me and struck Face with it. He crumpled into a heap. Better a headache than to be shot by the other MP who had his gun drawn."

When Zeke stopped to get a drink, Hannibal thought about what he had said so far. Before asking him any questions, he let Zeke finish what he had to say.

"After Face was put in the stockade, a separate cell from the others that attacked the whole messy business came to the surface. The guy that Face had killed had sexually assaulted the dead corporal and was going to start on Face next. Peck was in the process of being manhandled into position when we came in. He faced a disciplinary court and was sentenced to time in the stockade, I visited him as much as I could and when he was released we both went our separate ways. When we met up again here a few days later he asked me not to tell you any of this as he didn't want to let you down, knowing that he had killed somebody that was on his side of the war. He told me that he respects you and looks up to you as a father and friend. You know he even thanked me for hitting him when I did, said I stopped him from getting himself killed."

After Zeke had finished the story of how he and Face met, silence ensued, leaving both men to think about what had happened in the past. Hannibal sighed and shook his head. "Thanks Zeke. I know it was hard for you to tell me that and believe me I don't think any less of the kid. How about I see if I can get you moved closer to him. It would sure making visiting the two of you much easier."

Cass and Hannibal moved Zeke to the bed next to Face. When Hannibal saw the men from Zeke's platoon come in to visit with their sergeant he excuse himself and said that he'd be back later.

"Hey Hannibal, how's Face?" BA asked when Hannibal exited the infirmary.

"He's asleep right now. Cass gave him a shot of morphine, so he'll be out for a while." replied Hannibal, stretching his back in the warm sunlight.

"I'll go and sit with him a while and visit Zeke." BA said before going inside. Hannibal nodded and headed across the compound.

Murdock was also on his way over to the infirmary but stopped when he saw Hannibal sitting under one of the large trees. He decided to join Hannibal and sat next to him. "Face okay?"

"Yeah, he'll be fine Murdock, he'll be fine." Hannibal smiled.

Murdock returned the smile. "I guess he's sleeping still?"

Hannibal nodded a silent reply and closed his eyes. Murdock settled himself against the tree trunk and took the small transistor radio from his pocket. He turned the volume so it was just on and listened to it quietly.

"You really like that show don't you Murdock." Hannibal said, keeping his eyes closed.

Murdock chuckled, "there's not that gets passed you sir is there?"

"No Murdock, not much at all, except the odd thing. How about turning it up a little, not to much we don't want everyone encroaching in our free time.

A song by Santana had just finished when Adrian Cronauer came back on.

"Hey I'm Adrian Cronauer, I'm on again at 1600. Why? Because I have to, it's the army. We're talking out in the field today. Hi what's your name? My name's Bob Frever. Hi Bob what do you do? I'm in artillery. Thank you Bob. Can we play anything for you? Anything. Just play it loud okay?"

Murdock giggled like a little child, listening to his new found idol. Hannibal grinned at his captain's joy and went back to thinking about what Zeke had told him. Unaware that he'd fallen asleep he was startled when BA woke him up.

"C'mon Hannibal, you'll get flabby sitting around under trees all day long."

Startled at BA's presence Hannibal sat up and looked at BA. "Huh. BA. Uh what time is it?"

Shaking huis head, BA looked at his watch. "It's 1300 hours, you've slept all mornin'. But you looked so peaceful Murdock and I thought we'd leave you there. Face is awake again."

BA helped Hannibal to his feet and they both went to the infirmary. Face was looking a lot brighter.

"Hey kid." Hannibal greeted him. "Hello Cass. How's our patient doing?"

"Much better colonel. Another couple of days and he'll..." Cass started to say before Morrison interjected.

"And he'll be able to join you and your men for some R and R in Hawaii. Ands before you ask Zeke Anderson's platoon will be joining you."

Cheers of 'yahoo' and 'yee haa' filled the small infirmary. "Taking out that NVA HQ was a major coup for us and in return for putting your own lives at stake and not only rescuing vital members of your teams and the POW's which military intelligence new nothing about, two weeks rest and relaxation has been ordered for you by general Stockwell himself." Morrison told Hannibal amidst the joyous sounds.

"Told you military intelligence wasn't that intelligent." Face whispered conspiratorially to Murdock who tried to conceal a chuckle.

"Care to share lieutenant?" Morrison asked, having some idea of what had been said. Face looked at Murdock for a way put of explaining what he had said. His response from Murdock was a shrug.

"I was wondering where the military got it's intelligence from sir." Face said. Hannibal smiled at the two fold meaning that Face's reply carried.

Morrison conceded defeat and wished the lieutenant a speedy recovery. "By the way lieutenant it seems that your condition has evoked great sympathy."

"Sir?" Face asked, unsure of the implication. Hannibal too was intrigued and waited for Morrison's explanation.

"My niece has been asking after you, it appears that she will also be in Hawaii at the same time you are." Morrison smiled and left the lieutenant to think about it.

Five Days Later...

"Well Face, how's the arm and ribs?" Hannibal asked as he walked to where Face was lying no the beach.

"Getting better colonel. Hannibal can we talk?"

Hannibal had a fair idea of what was on Face's mind and sat down beside him. After Face had told Hannibal what had happened and how he had met Zeke, he asked Hannibal if he thought any less of him.

"No son, I don't. Standing up to thugs the way you did is admirable. I am sorry at the loss of your friend. I can understand what you were going through. It also happened to me when I first fought in the Korean war. Face don't feel you need to keep things bottled up, you can talk to me anytime. No more secrets?"

"No Hannibal. No more." Face said contentedly and closed his eyes, enjoying the suns golden rays.

"I love it when a plan comes together." Hannibal chuckled.

 



Play it Again Horn by Marita Chisholm